Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Change Law, Open Adoption Records"

Great letter to the editor from Tuesday's Albany Times Union:

Joyce Bahr ("Records Need to be Unsealed," letter, Nov. 29) is correct in saying that there are thousands of people who were born and adopted in New York who are stymied in their efforts to learn the truth of their identities. It is the hidebound state Legislature with the backbone of a jellyfish that keeps this bad law in place.

The results of all surveys of the public, including adoptive parents, favor repeal. And birth mothers need to search to heal their immense psychic wound that is the result of surrendering a child.

New York's sealed records law dates from 1935. It was pushed through the Legislature at the behest of then-Gov. Herbert H. Lehman. While he may have believed that this was in the best interest of the three children he and his wife adopted, time and changing attitudes have taught us a new lesson.

All people need to know where they came from, who their mothers and fathers are, what their real stories are. Denying this information is an injustice.

I relinquished a child in 1966, and was not given a choice as to whether I wanted anonymity. It was a condition of relinquishing a child. I argued against it to no avail. But I was never "promised" anonymity; if my child had not been adopted, her records would never have been sealed. We were reunited happily in 1981.

She was living in Wisconsin, and like the people Ms. Bahr wrote about, had no voice in the state of her birth and adoption, no legislator she might write to.

It is long past the time for this archaic and outdated law to be relegated to the dust bin of bad law.

Lorraine Dusky

Sag Harbor

[The writer is the author of Birthmark, a memoir about relinquishing a child (1979).]